Erring psychiatrist removed from Register

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has found a former Tauranga based psychiatrist guilty of improper conduct with a patient, struck him off from the Register and ordered him to pay more than $73,000 in costs to the New Zealand Medical Council and the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The man left the country about two years ago and currently works at the Caboolture and Redcliffe Hospitals in Queensland.

But following a briefing by New Zealand authorities late last year, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency ordered Dr Manilal Maharajh not to treat female patients “without the presence of a chaperon at all times.” following a briefing by their New Zealand counterparts.

Serious misconduct

The Tribunal had granted name suppression to the accused but rescinded its decision on November 22, 2013, stating that Dr Maharajh’s conduct was serious enough to “warrant discipline for the purposes of protecting the public, maintaining professional standards and punishing the practitioner.”

Aaron Martin, Director of Proceeding, said that the accused was unfit to practise as a psychiatrist and represented a danger to the public if he continued to do so.

A hearing in August heard allegations that he had filmed himself having sex with a patient, whose name has been withheld.

“Dr Maharajh entered into a relationship with the woman in 2008. During their relationship, he also prescribed an anti-depressant drug to the woman without adequate clinical justification. Later, she asked him for compensation for ‘injury to her feelings and loss she had suffered.’ Instead of following protocols, Dr Maharajh began paying her from February 2009 for about 18 months, even after she laid a complaint with the Health and Disability Commissioner,” the publication said.

Misleading officials

According to the Tribunal, Dr Maharajh had encouraged the woman to mislead the Health and Disability Commissioner about the nature of their relationship, and had emailed her father to organise a meeting to discuss her, without her consent.

The tribunal found Dr Maharaj’s misconduct cumulatively amounted to multiple and severe breaches of standards over a long period of time.

“Having regard to the manner in which Dr Maharajh took advantage of a young, vulnerable and sexually inexperienced woman for his own sexual gratification, such being a complete abrogation of his professional responsibilities as a psychiatrist and of the trust inherent in a professional relationship, discipline must be considered for the purpose of protecting the public, maintaining professional standards and punishing the practitioner,” the Tribunal said.

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